COMET • Vol. 14, No. 07 – 5 June 2013


First Annual California STEM Conference – Speaker Applications are Now Being Accepted 


The California Department of Education and the Californians Dedicated to Education Foundation ( are co-sponsoring the first annual California STEM Conference, “Invest in California STEM Education: Innovate, Integrate, and Inspire!” Confirmed keynote speakers at this conference, which will be held at the Sacramento Convention Center on 18-19 November 2013, include actress Geena Davis (; also see below) and Sugata Mitra ( The Conference will help schools share best practices, provide professional development for teachers, help districts form partnerships with business and higher education, and provide STEM resources for the attendees. 

The Call for Presenters is now available for download from, and the Call for Teacher and Student Demonstrations is available at Accepted demonstrations will be highlighted at the Share Fair, which will provide “a chance to showcase and share the great things happening in your school via a visual display of student work, program highlights, and best practices. Share Fair booths will be set up…along with the vendor exhibits for viewing on Monday, November 18.” The deadline to submit a proposal is Friday, June 30. 

Conference registration is now open. Download the registration form from

For more information, visit the conference Web site at


Related Information:

Women in Science and Technology Industries Profiled in State Agency Project 

Source: California Department of Education

Trailblazing women from California in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) will be profiled each week in a state project leading to California’s first STEM Conference this fall, said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson.

The California Department of Education, the California State Library, the California Commission on the Status of Women and Girls, and the California Research Bureau are joining forces in this work, designed to encourage more students–especially underrepresented groups, such as young women and students of color–to enter the STEM fields. 

“Maintaining our place on the cutting edge of science and technology depends on educating the next generation of leaders in these fields,” said Torlakson. “Every student deserves the opportunity to acquire a world-class education that prepares them for college and careers.” 

A different California woman has been profiled each week since March, through the California State Library Web site (“California Women in STEM” at This week, physicist Maria Simani, Executive Director of the California Science Project, is profiled (see 

For more information on STEM education in California, visit the California Department of Education’s STEM Web page:


“Innovate Your Future: Empower Young Women through Technology” Google+ Hangout 


Tomorrow (June 6) from 11:00-11:30 a.m. PDT, Geena Davis will be joined by leaders from Mashable, Cisco, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), and the United Nations (UN) for a Google+ Hangout organized by the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and the ITU highlighting the potential of Information and Communication Technologies in advancing gender equality and in contributing to bridging the digital divide between women and men. The event can be watched live on For more information, visit


Deadlines are Approaching to Provide Input on the Teacher Preparation Advisory Panel Recommendations and on the Draft Mathematics Framework 

This coming Friday (June 7) is the deadline to provide feedback on the recommendations of the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing’s Teacher Preparation Advisory Panel (TAP). The recommendations and public comments will be presented at the June 13 Commission meeting (see article below regarding other agenda items). To provide input, please visit (See for more information in the last issue of COMET.) 

Debra Franklin (Curriculum Frameworks and Instructional Resources Division, California Department of Education) reminds readers that June 17 is the last day that the online survey for the draft Mathematics Framework will be available and urges participation in the review process: “Your input is important. Don’t miss this opportunity to rate the draft framework and provide your suggestions to improve it. You can access the draft Mathematics Framework and online survey from the CDE Mathematics Curriculum Framework Web page at For additional information, send an e-mail to” 


California Commission on Teacher Credentialing to Discuss Several Topics Pertaining to Science and Mathematics Education at Next Meeting 


The agenda for the June 13-14 meeting of the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing is available at the Web site above. A live Webcast will be available at

A number of items on the agenda may be of interest to COMET readers. A few of these follow below: 

* Item 4B (Information Item): Annual Report on Passing Rates of Commission-Approved Examinations from 2007-2008 to 2011-2012


This agenda item reports the passing rates of Commission-approved examinations [such as the CBEST and CSET]. For each examination, the purpose of the examination, its structure, the scoring process, the examination volume, the first-time passing rate, and the cumulative passing rate are discussed. Excerpts follow below: 

“The Commission’s examinations contractor is currently working with California content expert panels on revisions to the CSET: Multiple Subjects, CSET: English, and CSET: Mathematics examinations to align them more closely with the California Common Core Standards adopted by the State Board of Education. This activity represents a range of work from revising subject matter requirements to establishing new passing score standards. The Commission’s adoption of new passing score standards for these exams beginning in 2014 could ultimately result in a change in passing rates for these CSET examinations…” 

Table 9B in the agenda item (see link above) contains the number of CSET: Mathematics and CSET: General Science examinees for Subtests I and II (covering material for the Foundational-Level credentials) broken down by year from 2007-2012. The number of examinees for the two mathematics CSET subtests has dropped steadily from 2008-2009 (1,977 examinees) to 2011-2012 (1,268 examinees). 

Table 10B contains data showing that for the General Science CSET subtests, the number of examinees peaked in 2009-2010 at 2,012 and dropped in the subsequent two years to 1,839 in 2011-2012. The annual passing rates for those taking both subtests (either math or science) in 2011-2012 were 43% for Mathematics and 69.8% for General Science. 

A note accompanying these tables states that “although candidates who pass Subtests I and II meet the requirements for Foundational-Level Mathematics and Foundational-Level Science authorizations, it is not currently possible to separate out the data for only those candidates who took these subtests for the purposes of obtaining a Foundational-Level Math or Science credential. Examinees for the full mathematics or science authorizations must also pass these two subtests in addition to passing a third subtest. Staff is currently working with the Commission’s examinations contractor to develop a stand-alone exam for foundational math, so more specific reporting should be available in the future.” 

* Item 4C (Action Item): Proposed Adoption of Revised CSET: Multiple Subjects, Single Subject English, and Single Subject Mathematics Subject Matter Requirements (SMRs) to Align with the California Common Core State Standards 


The Commission will consider adoption of the draft revised SMRs as presented in this agenda item. The CSET: Single Subject Mathematics Proposed Revisions follow below: 

“The CSET Common Core State Standards Alignment Objective Review Conference for the Single Subject Mathematics Content Standards included a panel of ten educators with expertise in Single Subject Mathematics content. Panel members reviewed the adopted SMRs for secondary mathematics to determine their appropriateness for describing the content knowledge required of a beginning secondary mathematics teacher charged with teaching the CCSS. Panel members discussed each domain in great detail, discussing the relevance of each statement to the task at hand. The panel recommended fairly extensive revisions, including the addition of new sections, changing the name of at least one domain to reflect the added content, and the elimination of one domain, History of Mathematics. The proposed revised SMRs for the CSET: Single Subject Mathematics examination are provided in Appendix D (to be provided as an agenda insert prior to the Commission meeting).” 

* Item 4D (Information/Action): Recommendations from the Teacher Preparation Advisory Panel 


“This agenda item presents the recommendations from the Teacher Preparation Advisory Panel to the Commission for initial review and discussion. Recommended Action: That the Commission provide direction as to how it wishes to proceed with further consideration of adoption and/or implementation of the panel’s recommendations.” These recommendations have been included in an earlier issue of COMET (; see the Agenda Item 4D Web link above for details. 

* Item 2I (Action): Public Hearing Proposed Amendments to Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations Pertaining to Adding a Teaching or Content Area to a General Education Credential 


“This agenda item presents proposed amendments to Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations pertaining to adding a teaching or content area to a valid general education teaching credential… Staff recommends that the Commission adopt the proposed amendments…” More details of related agenda items have been included in earlier issues of COMET (e.g., see In short, the regulations will require both Single and Multiple Subject credential holders to take a departmentalized pedagogy course in any Single Subject content area they wish to add to their credential. “Commissioners agreed that a Commission-approved program sponsor could grant equivalency for coursework completed at that institution for candidates seeking to meet the pedagogy requirement to avoid any redundancy in requirements.” 


Applications to Develop and Analyze Smarter Balanced Pilot and Field Test Items are Due Tomorrow 

Contact: Dixie Abbott, Smarter Balanced Teacher Involvement Coordinator for California, California Department of Education Statewide Assessment Transition Office: or 916-445-4821

The California Department of Education (CDE) is accepting applications through tomorrow (June 6) from qualified educators to participate in the development and analysis of Smarter Balanced pilot and field test items. The CDE will be selecting educators for the following activities (noted in parentheses are anticipated months of service): 

  • Field Test Stimulus Review (June – August 2013)
  • Field Test Item Writing (July – October 2013)
  • Field Test Item and Task Review (July – November 2013)
  • Pilot Test Data Review (August – September 2013)

General requirements for participating educators include the following:

  • Currently certified or licensed to teach English-language arts (ELA) and/or mathematics in a K–12 public school;
  • Currently teaching in a public school or currently employed by a public school or by a district or state education entity, including higher education;
  • Experience teaching ELA and/or mathematics in grades 3-8 and/or high school within the past three years OR have worked in a classroom content support role such as a literacy or mathematics coach, or as a district or state content specialist;
  • Experience reviewing part or all of the Common Core State Standards for the content area(s) in which they are interested in writing items.

For the online application, visit

Related Opportunity:

Application Window for Digital Library State Network of Educators Closes June 14 

Source: CDE Smarter Balanced Update – Issue 58

Through June 14, the CDE will be accepting applications to participate in the State Network of Educators for the Smarter Balanced Digital Library. This team of K-12 and higher education professionals will evaluate formative assessment tools and practices for inclusion in the Smarter Balanced Digital Library. Approximately 150 members will be selected for this team. Members must have experience with the Common Core State Standards and formative assessment tools and practices, and must have experience teaching one or more of the following student groups: general education, gifted and talented, English learners, and students with disabilities. Further information about this opportunity and a link to the online application can be found at

[Note: To join the CDE Smarter Balanced e-mail list for biweekly updates, send a blank e-mail message to]


“U.S. Senate Relaunches STEM Education Caucus” by Aquala Bogan

Source : WashingtonExec
URL [1]:
URL [2]: 

[1] The U.S. Senate [relaunched] its Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education and Workforce Caucus and [held] its Inaugural briefing on May 20, 2013. The caucus was originally formed to raise awareness of STEM education and workforce issues, acknowledging that a STEM-trained workforce is vital for economic prosperity, national security and global competitiveness. The relaunch of the caucus is in part due to a demand for STEM jobs, but a lack of a qualified workforce for such positions…

[2] The STEM Education and Workforce Caucus Inaugural Briefing, entitled “Stakeholder Responses to the President’s FY14 STEM Proposal,” brought nonprofit, government, academic and industry professionals together in a packed room to discuss STEM education gaps, federal STEM program consolidation, and STEM mentorship.

The panel, held at the U.S. Capitol Building Senate Briefing Room, included Susan Lavrakas, Director of Workforce at Aerospace Industries Association; Ed Swallow, Chair of the STEM Workforce Division at the National Defense Industrial Association and Vice President of Business Development for the Federal and Defense Technologies Division at Northrop Grumman; Philip Sadler, Director of Science Education, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics; James Brown, Director of the STEM Education Coalition; and Heather Gonzalez, specialist in Science and Technology Policy in the Resources, Science and Industry Division of the Congressional Research Service. Steven Pruitt, Senior Vice President for Content, Research and Development at Achieve, Inc., served as moderator.

Each panelist opened discussion by describing the state of the nation’s STEM education outreach programs and how FY14 will significantly consolidate current STEM-related initiatives. According to Gonzalez, the Department of Education (DoEd), National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) are the top federal agencies that support STEM education and outreach initiatives. All panelists agreed that the FY14 will include the elimination of the many one-off STEM initiatives across small and large government agencies in hopes of developing a more unified federal outreach program. Additions to STEM education funding in FY14 are focused on “lead agencies” such as DoEd for K-12, NSF for Undergraduate, and the Smithsonian Institution for informal STEM Education.

Much was discussed regarding the STEM education pipeline in K-12 learning and where the “leakage” is regarding the persistence and performance of students when learning math and science. [Speakers focused on topics such as the importance of the following: having students take Algebra I by 8th grade, having parents understand why it is important for their children and the country to do well in STEM, STEM mentors, and local decision-making for federal and state STEM initiatives. Visit the WashingtonExec Web sites above for more details. Also access Swallow’s presentation file at to view numerous slides of STEM-related data.]

Related Statements from the Offices of Two of the STEM Caucus Co-Chairs:

Senate STEM Education and Workforce Caucus Hosts Panel Discussion 


From U.S. Senator Mark Kirk 

Senators Dick Durbin of Illinois, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Roger Wicker of Mississippi, and I recently launched the Senate Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education and Workforce Caucus. We established the Caucus with the goal of raising awareness and advancing the dialogue about how to improve STEM education and maintain America’s competitive edge in the global economy. I am a strong supporter of STEM education because a STEM-trained workforce is vital to promoting economic prosperity, innovation, and national security. 

Our Caucus kicked off on Monday, May 20, with a panel discussion about the President’s Fiscal Year 2014 STEM Budget Proposal and changes to federal STEM programs. The panelists represented viewpoints from both industry and educators… 

I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Caucus to create STEM jobs and solve the challenges of STEM education. 

“Sen. Shaheen Announces Push for Young Women to Focus on Engineering” by Kimberly Houghton

Source: New Hampshire Union Leader – 3 June 2013

Announcing the launch of the Senate STEM Education and Workforce Caucus, U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen said… that more females should be pursuing engineering fields. 

“We have got to get more young women involved in STEM subjects,” Shaheen told a small crowd gathered at Nashua Community College’s Advanced Manufacturing Center.

Shaheen has become a strong supporter of STEM education… She will be co-chairing the Senate’s new STEM caucus, which will attempt to raise awareness of STEM education and workforce issues to improve the nation’s economic prosperity and global competitiveness.

In order to do that, Shaheen said more females must begin to show an interest. While women make up about 48 percent of the nation’s workforce, only 24 percent of the jobs in STEM fields are occupied by females, according to Shaheen… 

“We have got to change the stereotypes,” Shaheen said, adding groups such as Merrimack High School’s Chop Shop 166 robotics team are setting new pathways for young women interested in engineering jobs. Shaheen told a small group of local and state officials about her legislation, the Inspiration Innovation School Grant Program, to boost access to STEM educational opportunities. [To read more, please visit the Web site above.] 


STEM Degrees Typically Offer the Best Opportunities for Employment and Earnings 

Source: Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce – 29 May 2013
URL (Report):

A newly-released report from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce using U.S. Census Bureau data shows that median annual income for recent college graduates ranges from $30,000 for arts majors to $54,000 for engineering majors. Hard Times 2013 reports differences in unemployment rates and earnings based on major for bachelor’s and graduate degree holders. STEM degrees typically offer the best opportunities for employment and earnings, while unemployment is higher for graduates with non-technical degrees. 

Below are some of the major findings:

  1. Even as the housing bubble seems to be dissipating, unemployment rates for recent architecture graduates have remained high (12.8%). Graduate degrees and work experience did not shield these graduates from a sector-specific shock; graduates with experience in the field have the same jobless rates as the economy overall (9.3%).
  2. Unemployment is generally higher for non-technical majors, such as the arts (9.8%) or law and public policy (9.2%).
  3. People who make technology are still better off than people who use technology. Unemployment rates for recent graduates in information systems, concentrated in clerical functions, is high (14.7%) compared with mathematics (5.9%) and computer science (8.7%).
  4. Unemployment rates are relatively low for recent graduates in education (5.0%), engineering (7.0%), health and the sciences (4.8%) because they are tied to stable or growing industry sectors and occupations.
  5. Graduates in psychology and social work also have relatively low rates (8.8%) because almost half of them work in healthcare or education sectors.

The full update, Hard Times, College Majors, Unemployment and Earnings 2013: Not All College Degrees Are Created Equal, is available online at


More Career Options May Explain Why Fewer Women Pursue Jobs in Science and Math 

Source: Psychological Science

Women may be less likely to pursue careers in science and math because they have more career choices, not because they have less ability, according to a study published in Psychological Science. 

Although the gender gap in mathematics has narrowed in recent decades, with more females enrolling and performing well in math classes, females are still less likely to pursue careers in STEM than their male peers.

Developmental psychologist Ming-Te Wang and his colleagues at the University of Pittsburgh and University of Michigan wondered whether differences in overall patterns of math and verbal ability might play a role [in the underrepresentation of women in STEM fields]. 

The researchers examined data from 1490 college-bound U.S. students drawn from a national longitudinal study. The students were surveyed in 12th grade and again when they were 33 years old. The survey included data on several factors, including participants’ SAT scores, various aspects of their motivational beliefs and values, and their occupations at age 33. 

Looking at students who showed high math abilities, Wang and colleagues found that those students who also had high verbal abilities–a group that contained more women than men–were less likely to have chosen a STEM occupation than those who had moderate verbal abilities. 

Further analyses suggest that gender differences in career choice could be explained, at least in part, by differences in students’ combinations of abilities. 

According to Wang, this study identifies a critical link in the debate about the dearth of women in STEM fields. 

“Our study shows that it’s not lack of ability or differences in ability that orients females to pursue non-STEM careers, it’s the greater likelihood that females with high math ability also have high verbal ability,” notes Wang. “Because they’re good at both, they can consider a wide range of occupations.” 

Notably, those participants who reported feeling more able and successful at math were more likely to end up in a STEM-related job, and this was particularly true for students who had high math and moderate verbal abilities. Thus, math may play a more integral role in these individuals’ sense of identity, drawing them toward STEM occupations. 

Considerable funds have been put into designing and testing a wide variety of intervention programs to increase female participation in math-intensive careers. According to Wang, these findings suggest that “educators and policy makers may consider shifting the focus from trying to strengthen girls’ STEM-related abilities to trying to tap the potential of these girls who are equally skilled in both math and verbal domains.”